Hey my dears,
after having given you a little insight into Steal Like An Artist, today I’m gonna give you a little insight into another one of Austin Kleon‘s books, Show Your Work.
It has the same size as Steal Like An Artist, so it also fits into nearly every pocket or handbag, which makes it a good company when you commute or travel or have to wait to be served or whatever.
Very early in the beginning of the book it is stated that it is “a book for people who hate the very idea of self-promotion” (p.3) and this statement is supported by everything that follows, because it is not just a sheer guide to where and how to publish your work, but the focus is more on sharing and letting people in, showing your finished works as much as your works in progress, learning about your own work by observing your own patterns, letting people in by giving away some of your secrets without giving away your self, by sharing what you’ve learned during the process of your work.
Again, in this book there are quotes from artists and these quotes are really quote-worthy, as much as Austin Kleon’s words themselves, for instance when he says “[…] good work isn’t created in a vacuum, and […] creativity is always, in some sense, a collaboration, the result of a mind connected to other minds.” (p.11).
It is an encouraging book to inspire people to show not only the finished results of their work – as he says “As in all kinds of work, there is a distinction between the painter’s process, and the products of her process” (p.33) – but also the process, so that people can connect and maybe learn from the process.
He even quotes Michael Jackson, who said “A lot of people are so used to just seeing the outcome of work. They never see the side of the work you go through to produce the outcome.” (p.32)
And today more than ever, we have the chance to make it visible. On the internet we can share something little every day, like Kleon states, and we can make the process visible to the audience as much as we can show the finished product of the work.
There are some amazing opportunities and this book is full of good advices, but it also shows the risks. He gives advices on how to get rid of the excuse of having “no time”, but finding time during waiting hours, commuting, etc., he gives advices on what to share “Don’t show your lunch or your latte; show your work.” (p.52), “don’t post things online that you’re not ready for everyone in the world to see.” (p.57), furthermore, on building a name, sharing your influences. But he also names some risks, like the potential vulnerability that you feel when showing (especially unfinished) work, that you have to learn to take punches and deal with bad critiques, etc.
I really like that he dedicates one chapter to crediting properly, as he says “if you fail to properly attribute work that you share, you not only rob the person who made it, you rob all the people you’ve shared it with. Without attribution, they have no way to dig deeper into the work or find more of it.” (p.85) If you ever find a quote of yourself or your work in a caption or status of someone else without quotation marks, your initials or any other attribution, you will be able to relate to the importance of it, especially because it is somehow an honour, because it states that apparently you or your work was quote-worthy, but at the same time it is as if someone pretended that it was their own proper thought and they will get the attribution for it. (and that just doesn’t feel fair, believe me, you feel robbed. And it is unfair to those who might want to read or watch or listen to the whole story or context this quote stems from.)
In this book, Austin Kleon also talks about becoming a better story teller, because “Words matter.”(p.93) and the perception of the work is also shaped by the story you build around it. (As you might imagine “Words matter.” became one of my favourite quotes ^^) and “humans want to connect” (p.93).
There is so much to be found in this book, about structuring your work and the stories you build around it, about talking about yourself on parties (another one worth quoting: “We all like to think we’re more complex than a two-sentence explanation, but a two-sentence explanation is usually what the world wants from us. Keep it short and sweet.” p.109), about teaching what you know and sharing some secrets, about avoiding vampire people or activities that suck the energy out of you and about connecting with real peers, about generating interest in your work, about saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’, about moving forward and developing, about persevering, about going away to come back (“[commuting] nicely separates our work life from our home life.”, quoting his wife who said “If you never go to work, you never get to leave work.”, both p.194).
In the reviews on Amazon, many people said that Show Your Work is not as good as Steal Like An Artist, but I personally have to disagree. I think it both links well together and is based on common ground.
I absolutely like that in Steal Like An Artist, at the end of the book, Austin Kleon states whom he “stole” from and in Show Your Work after having talked about proper crediting, he gives credit to the people who inspired him and whom he “stole” from, so he puts the advices he gave throughout his book into action.
I also like the recommendations at the end of both books, “what now?” and that he encourages the reader to give a copy of the books to someone else, that he invites us to share our work online with a hashtag, so that we can all connect directly, again something he had been talking about beforehand.
So, I definitely recommend this book and if you have already read it or if you will read it now, I’d be delighted if you told me your opinion about it.
Let’s connect 😉
And if you feel inspired after having read this book to show your work, I’d love if you shared it with me as well.
Do you have any work in progress right now? Are you working on something? Have you just finished something?
Thank you for these two inspiring and encouraging works, Austin! 🙂